Saturday, April 11, 2015

Week 7 & A Recap: 40 Beers 40 Nights

When I decided to drink 40 beers over the course of the 40 nights of lent, I sort of poked fun at the idea of sacrificing something. "I'm giving up not drinking a delicious beer every night." I said. For the first 36 days it was hardly a sacrifice. It was a joy. At some points I worried I might not be able to return to NOT drinking a beer after work. Then I got the worst cold of my life.

I've had a lot of colds. I come down with one roughly twice a year. I'm always a big baby about it.  I'm not exaggerating when I say this thing was a monster. It was concentrated evil. It came on quickly, lasted for three horrible days and then suddenly as it came it disappeared. At its apex I couldn't get out of bed or even open my eyes because of the pressure. Beer was out of the question. Joke was on me. I could have been a trooper and drank right through the cold, but I crumbled. It was just one night. Still, it took me off course and perhaps proved I'm not as tough as I set out to be.

It became 40 Beers 41 Nights which certainly doesn't have the same ring to it. Here are the final four.

Wednesday - Hotter than Helles - Cigar City Brewing (Helles Lager 5%) - I picked this beer because I could feel the cold coming on and I didn't want to waste something hoppy and flavorful on weakened taste buds. The guy who writes Drunkspin recently described Helles Lager as the kind of beer you would serve to your buddy who prefers a Bud to a craft beer. It's a very malty, generic tasting style. It's neither offensive or remarkable. I don't particularly like it, but if I am going to drink a Helles Lager, it's going to be from Tampa's excellent Cigar City Brewing.

Thursday - Nyquil - Proctor and Gamble (Cough Syrup 10%) - As a person with a life long aversion to liquid medicine, I had never cracked a bottle of a Nyquil. That's how bad this cold was. Nyquil pours a dark, creamy green. It has aromas of melted down Vicks Vapor Rub and unrecognizable chemicals. The initial taste is mint and nail polish remover with hints of tears. It finishes with the taste of regurgitation. Seriously. How did kids drink this stuff to get wasted? I tried to do more than one shot one night and spit it right back out. I do not recommend this drink,

Friday - Trou Ble Some - Off Color Brewing (Gose 4.3%) -        
I wasn't quite ready to start drinking serious beer yet. When I saw this at Whole Foods on a cough drop and Kleenex run, I remembered Lauren buying a bottle at one of our favorite beer bars and thought it would be light enough to drink while ill. It's a Gose which means it's unfiltered with a low ABV and devoid of any hop taste. This particular beer contains coriander. I didn't look it up myself, but I am sure if you Google "is coriander good for a cold?" someone on the internet will tell you it is. This beer reminds me a lot of Dogfish Head's Namaste. It's very light, but full of spice and citrus flavors. It's not something I gravitate toward, but a great representation of its style.

Saturday - Wookey Jack - Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Black Ale 8.3%) - I couldn't finish his list without something from California's stellar Firestone Walker. Wookey Jack is a heavier, darker version of its signature Union Jack IPA. Wookey is hard to nail down. While technically a black ale, it has characteristics of a stout/porter and a double IPA the latter of which I think it most resembles. This is a very hoppy beer with a lot of different tastes classically found in darker IPAs. There's some chocolate and coffee and at the end there is a nice bitterness. This beer isn't available year round, so I am glad I got my hands on a bottle.

Sunday - Flower Power - Ithaca Beer Company (IPA 7.5%) - I wanted to end with a beer that had some sentimental meaning behind it. As I mentioned earlier, my go-to beers used to be Sam Adams Boston Lager and Guinness. These are still beers I will happily drink today. But, when I was drinking them on a regular basis, the concept of a hoppy beer was foreign and something I had little appetite for. I grew up in the Finger Lakes and Flower Power was the beer that changed my mind. It was widely available and at first it didn't taste good to me at all. After I tried it a few times, I developed a real taste for it. This beer has still got it. It's a consistently good IPA with a bit of a sweet malty taste and an incredibly refreshing finish. This is what an IPA should be.

Alright, here's the hard part. Ranking the beers. If I made this list tomorrow everything from 6 on would probably be a in a different order. I would enthusiastically drink beers 1-33 on this list any day. I love the breweries from 34-39, but those beers are ranked low because of the style. I would rather not drink beer than drink number 40 again.

1. Lawson's Finest Liquids - Sip of Sunshine
2. Russian River Brewing - Pliny the Elder
3. Bear Republic - Big Bear Black Stout
4. Ballast Point - Grapefruit Sculpin
5. Fiddlehead - Second Fiddle
6. The Alchemist - Heady Topper
7. Gun Hill Brewery - Void of Light
8. Founders Brewing Company - Breakfast Stout
9. Singlecut Beersmiths - Bon Bon 2x TNT
10. Lagunitas Brewing Company - Cappuccino Stout
11. Green Flash Brewing Company - West Coast IPA
12. Maine Beer Company - Weez
13. Ithaca Beer Company - Flower Power
14. Schlafly Beer - Tasmanian Style IPA
15. NoDa Brewing - Hop Drop & Roll
16. Sam Adams Beer Company - Rebel IPA
17. Brooklyn Brewery - Blast!
18. Oskar Blues Brewery - Ten Fidy
19. Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Wookey Jack
20. Andean Brewing Company - Kuka Coffee & Cream Stout
21. Sixpoint Brewery - Sweet Action
22. Stone Brewing Company - Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean
23. Triple C Brewing - Baby Maker
24. Alphabet City Brewing Company - Alpha Male
25. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company - Big Foot Ale
26. Troegs Brewery - Nugget Nectar
27. Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Also - Palo Santo Marron
28. Otter Creek Brewing Company - Citra Mantra
29. Green Flash Brewing Company - Palate Wrecker
30. New Glarus Brewing Company - Spotted Cow
31. Flying Dog Beer - Gonzo
32. Great Lakes Brewing Company - Commodore Perry IPA
33. Southern Tier Brewing Company - 2x Stour
34. Off Color Brewery - Trou Ble Some
35. Boulevard Brewing Company - Tank 7
36. Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project - Jack D'Or
37. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Calabaza Blanca
38. Evil Twin Brewing - Low Life
39. Cigar City Brewing - Hotter Than Helles
40. Cricket Hill Brewery - East Coast Lager 

Let's break it down.
Breweries: 39 (I regret drinking 2 Green Flash beers. Even though they were both delicious)
Number of states represented on list:  17
New York - 9 
California - 9
Vermont - 4
Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina - 2
Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Wisconsin - 1

Boroughs of New York City: 4. Get it together Staten Island!

Styles of Beer
Double IPA - 10
IPA - 7
Stout - 7
Cream Ale, Saison, Black Ale, Porter, Helles/Pale Lager - 2
Amber Ale, Pilsner, Brown Ale, Barleywine, Witbier, Gose - 1


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